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Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Marking Christianity’s most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter’s Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest, and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

He denounced the `’scourge of hunger,” which he said was `’aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible.”

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Writers Michelle Faul in Lagos, Nigeria; Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Yuras Karmanau in Bybasivka, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

-

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Celebrating Easter Sunday, Christianity’s most joyous and hopeful day, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine and Syria and for an end to the terrorist attacks in Nigeria that have targeted many Christians.

More than 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed the huge square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Dawn brought clear skies and warm temperatures for Easter, the culmination of Holy Week, the day which marks the Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine. Some of the hymns at the Vatican Mass on Sunday were in Russian.

Invoking God, he said, “we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

Tensions between pro-Russian supporters in Ukraine and those loyal to the interim government in Kiev have sparked bloodshed in recent days.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Since March 2011, Syria has been wracked by a civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month. On Easter, he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations be sustained.

He also recalled those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terrorist network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there were hopes that Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy and hope means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Celebrating Easter Sunday, Christianity’s most joyous and hopeful day, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine and Syria and for an end to the terrorist attacks in Nigeria that have targeted many Christians.

More than 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed the huge square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Dawn brought clear skies and warm temperatures for Easter, the culmination of Holy Week, the day which marks the Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine. Some of the hymns at the Vatican Mass on Sunday were in Russian.

Invoking God, he said, “we ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

Tensions between pro-Russian supporters in Ukraine and those loyal to the interim government in Kiev have sparked bloodshed in recent days.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.” Since March 2011, Syria has been wracked by a civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria’s population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there “will not submit” to extremists who attack “our people and holy places.”

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month. On Easter, he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations be sustained.

He also recalled those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to “brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terrorist network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week’s rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there were hopes that Vatican mediation can help end the country’s violent political unrest and Francis urged that “hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord” there.

But Francis’ Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the “good news” of Easter’s joy and hope means “leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica’s balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Celebrating Easter Sunday, Christianity’s most joyous and hopeful day, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine and Syria and for an end to the terrorist attacks in Nigeria that have targeted so many Christians.

More than 150,000 tourists – Romans and pilgrims, young and old – had turned out for the Mass he celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

So many came that they overflowed the huge square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope’s native Argentina as well as Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Invoking God, he said, `’We ask you to enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence.”

Tensions between pro-Russian supporters in Ukraine and those loyal to the interim government in Kiev have sparked bloodshed in recent days.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to `’boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue.”

Since March 2011, Syria has been wracked by a civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month. On Easter, he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations be sustained.

He also recalled those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to `’brutal terrorist attacks” in parts of Nigeria.

But Francis’ Easter message also stressed that people pay attention to the needy close to home. Reflecting the priorities of his papacy, he said the `’good news” of Easter’s joy and hope means `’leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile at the end of the ceremony before he went to the central balcony over the basilica to deliver his commentary on the violence and poverty staining the Earth.

A rainstorm had lashed Rome on Saturday night, with thunder competing with the sound of hymns when Francis led a vigil service in the basilica. Dawn brought clear skies and warm temperatures for Easter, the culmination of Holy Week, the day which marks the Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Pope Francis, huge crowd joyously celebrate Easter

KDWN

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Celebrating Easter Sunday, Christianity’s most joyous day, Pope Francis stood under sunny skies before a flock so numerous they overflowed the flower-bedecked St. Peter’s Square.

Even before Mass began in late morning, more than 100,000 tourist, Romans and pilgrims, young and old, had turned out for the Mass. Many more streamed in throughout the ceremony.

The broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber river filled up with the faithful and the curious, trying to catch a glimpse of the pontiff at the altar under a canopy erected on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica.

A rainstorm had lashed Rome on Saturday night, with thunder competing with the sound of hymns when Francis led a vigil service in St. Peter’s Basilica. Dawn brought clear skies and warm temperatures for Easter, the culmination of Holy Week, the day which marks the Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

This year the Roman Catholic church’s celebration of Easter coincided with that of the Orthodox church and some of the hymns at the Vatican Mass were in Russian.

Francis didn’t give a homily, since traditionally pontiffs’ main remarks on Easter come during the noon-time “Urbi et Orbi” (Latin for `to the city and the world’) address.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindu, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Follow Frances D’Emilio on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio